Monday, 13 August 2018

(341) Baldwin of Wilden House and Astley Hall, Earls Baldwin of Bewdley

Baldwin, Earls Baldwin of Bewdley
The Baldwin family were yeomen and tenant farmers in Corvedale, Shropshire from at least the early sixteenth century. In the second half of the seventeenth century a branch of the family moved into the iron trade, and in 1788 Thomas Baldwin (1751–1823) moved from Shrewsbury down the River Severn to Stourport in Worcestershire, a more promising location on the emerging canal system. Here, he established a successful iron foundry which he bequeathed to his sons George Pearce Baldwin (1789–1840) and Enoch Baldwin (1793–1857). G.P. Baldwin married twice, and when he died in 1840 his second wife had a seven children under the age of fifteen and was pregnant with another. She was Sarah, daughter of the Rev. Jacob Stanley, a Methodist minister in Northumberland who was President of the Methodist Conference in 1845, and her posthumous child was Alfred Baldwin (1841-1908), to whom we shall return.

After G.P. Baldwin's death, his brother Enoch took over the management of Baldwin, Son & Co. in Stourport, and also set up a new tinplate works in Wolverhampton in partnership with his two eldest nephews, Pearce (1813–1851) and William (1817–1863), who were George's sons by his first marriage. In 1854, this firm, which traded as 
E. P. and W. Baldwin, acquired the wrought iron and tin plate works at Wilden near Stourport (where there had been a forge since at least the mid 17th century), and this gradually became the focus of the business. As they grew to manhood, several of George's sons by his second marriage also entered this firm, and after the deaths of the three original partners between 1857 and 1863, control of the company passed to Alfred Baldwin (1841-1908) and his two surviving older brothers, George (1826–1881) and Stanley (1828–1907). However, Stanley's bad management and drinking, combined with a trade depression, brought the firm close to bankruptcy in the late 1860s. Matters improved only after 1870, when Alfred Baldwin raised sufficient capital to buy out his brothers and take sole control of the business. At the same time, he moved into Wilden House, opposite the works, with his wife and young son. Alfred Baldwin had the drive and ambition not only to make the firm successful, but also to expand the business into new markets and to establish new factories elsewhere. In 1902, his various business interests were brought together in a new holding company, Baldwins Ltd., which was a public limited company quoted on the London Stock Exchange. His success in business brought Alfred other opportunities too: he became a director of the Metropolitan Bank and the Great Western Railway, and was appointed Chairman of the latter in 1905. He was also elected as the Conservative Member of Parliament for Bewdley in 1892, and held the seat continuously until his death in 1908.

In 1866, Alfred had married Louisa Macdonald, one of the five surviving lively and talented daughters of the Rev. George Brown Macdonald, a Methodist minister in Wolverhampton, four of whom made striking marriages (two of them married the artists Edward Burne Jones and Edward Poynter and the third became the mother of Rudyard Kipling). Alfred and Louisa had only one child, Stanley Baldwin (1867-1947), after which Louisa's life was blighted by a mystery illness which left her depressed and confined to a bath chair, although she was still able to write novels, poetry and short stories. Stanley was sent to Harrow (where he came close to being expelled for writing a pornographic short story) and Trinity College, Cambridge, and then joined the family firm. He became a partner in 1890 and after his father became an MP in 1892, the running of the business was left increasingly to him. He had all his father's ability, and the firm continued to prosper and grow. It had a tradition of excellent labour relations, and the benefits of a partnership approach in this field was a lesson that Stanley took with him when he succeeded his father as MP for Bewdley in 1908 and moved into politics. For almost a decade, Stanley sat as a backbench MP, earning a reputation as an effective if infrequent speaker in Parliament, but showing no desire to climb the ministerial ladder: he continued to give priority to his business commitments.

The situation changed with the First World War. Stanley was too old to fight, but he felt more than ever driven by duty to serve in the field of politics, where he could be active. The wartime atmosphere of national unity and class co-operation reinforced his values and beliefs, and his focus moved from business to government. At the same time, the number of Conservative MPs away on war service meant that the pool of available talent for Government appointments was narrower than usual. In 1916 he became Parliamentary Private Secretary to Andrew Bonar Law, the Conservative leader who was serving as Chancellor of the Exchequer in the coalition government, and the two men developed a close working relationship which led rapidly to his promotion to the post of Financial Secretary to the Treasury, the most senior ministerial appointment outside the Cabinet. When Bonar Law retired on health grounds in 1921, a reshuffle resulted in Stanley's appointment to the Cabinet as President of the Board of Trade. In Cabinet, he found himself increasingly alienated by the expediency and tactics with which issues were tackled, and he was also personally antipathetic to Lloyd George, the Prime Minister. In 1922 he was almost alone in Cabinet in objecting to holding a snap general election to extend the coalition's mandate, but he had much of the parliamentary party behind him and his stand led to the collapse of the coalition government. He persuaded Bonar Law to come out of retirement as Prime Minister and was himself appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer, but in 1923, when Bonar Law was again obliged to retire on health grounds, King George V asked Baldwin to form a Government. His first term as Prime Minister was short, as the Conservatives lost the general election in December 1923, but he retained the leadership of the Conservative party and returned to power at the end of 1924 when the first Labour government collapsed and a general election saw the Conservatives returned with a large majority.

The first two or three years of the new Government were the period of Baldwin's most significant achievements in power. His key theme was the search for industrial peace, in which he drew on his experience in business. His calm handling of the General Strike of 1926 saw the peak of his personal popularity, but the stress and long working hours it involved took their toll, and the later years of his premiership were marked by periods of exhaustion and a sense of drift in Government which may have been reinforced by Baldwin's personal style of leadership. He was defeated at the 1929 general election, but again retained the Conservative leadership. When in 1931 the sense of national crisis led to the formation of a new coalition, the National Government, he was drawn into this as Lord President of the Council and Lord Privy Seal, and he served in these roles for four years under Ramsey Macdonald. In 1935 the two men exchanged posts, and he became Prime Minister for the third time, seizing the opportunity to accelerate Britain's rearmament in the light of the threat from Nazi Germany. During the Second World War the Beaverbrook press branded him one of the 'guilty men' whose appeasement of Hitler and failure to rearm more quickly had led to war, but Baldwin's view was that the public would not have supported the measure, and that he had moved as quickly and as far as he could in the circumstances of the time. The other crisis of his third premiership was the Abdication Crisis, where his calm firmness with King Edward VIII was very well received by the public. Approaching his seventieth birthday, he decided the time had come to retire, and he stood down on 28 May 1937: one of the few Prime Ministers of the 20th century to choose the time of his own departure. He was made a Knight of the Garter and raised to the peerage as Earl Baldwin of Bewdley a few days later.

In 1902, Stanley Baldwin took a lease of Astley Hall near Stourport, which became his home for the rest of his life. He bought the freehold in 1912, and undertook some modest alterations to the house shortly afterwards. This was where he raised his family of two sons and four daughters. He had a slightly difficult relationship with his eldest son, Oliver Ridsdale Baldwin (1899-1958), 2nd Earl Baldwin, who hated Eton and joined the army at the earliest opportunity (his cousin Rudyard Kipling steering him into the Irish guards). After the War he spent some time as an army instructor in Armenia (where he was twice imprisoned) before turning to journalism. His experiences led him to adopt socialist views, and he occasioned his father some embarrassment when he stood as a Labour candidate in 1924 and still more when he was elected as a Labour MP in 1929. Although he continued to be welcome at Astley Hall, there was a tacit understanding that politics were not a suitable subject for discussion on these occasions. He also caused his parents anxiety by being gay at a time when it was not only illegal but publicly unacceptable. He 'came out' to his parents in about 1922, when he began a lifelong relationship with Jonny Parke Boyle (1893-1969), and although his immediate family accepted the situation and later received Jonny, Oliver's homosexuality caused a breach with Rudyard Kipling. For Stanley Baldwin, his anxiety was that if his son's sexuality became public, it could have political consequences, but this never happened.

When Stanley Baldwin died in 1947, his titles passed to Oliver but Astley Hall did not. Probably because he had struggled to keep the house going during the Second World War, Stanley decided to leave the house to Birmingham City Council, for use as a school. It served this purpose for a number of years before being sold and converted into a care home. The Baldwin peerage passed on Oliver's death to his younger brother, Windham Baldwin (1904-76), who became the 3rd Earl. In the 1950s he emerged as a doughty defender of his father's reputation, writing a biography to set the record straight after the official biography - which Stanley had authorised in the 1940s - emerged as poorly researched and hostile. The title is now held by Windham's son, the 4th Earl, who after a career in teaching and educational administration became one of the ninety hereditary peers elected to remain in the House of Lords in 1999. Until his retirement in 2018, he was an active champion of alternative and complementary therapies in Parliament.

Wilden House, Worcestershire

Wilden House: the early Victorian house demolished in 1939.

A substantial village mill house, set on the corner of Wilden Lane and Bigbury Lane and just across the road from the Wilden Works. The only known photograph of the house suggests that it consisted of an earlier 18th century two-storey block with sash windows, and a mid 19th century three-storey block with gabled dormers and a mix of sash and casement windows. This was probably the extension recorded to have been built for Alfred Baldwin after he occupied the house in 1870. The building caused a marked constriction in Wilden Lane and was demolished for road widening in 1939.

Descent: sold 1854 to Enoch, Pearce & William Baldwin; sold 1870 to Alfred Baldwin (1841-1908)... demolished 1939.

Astley Hall, Worcestershire

The present Astley Hall (at first called The Hill House), may have replaced an earlier building, but if so it seems to be unrecorded. The present house was constructed by George & Welch of Worcester, builders before 1836, to the designs of Harvey Eginton, for Moses Harper (c.1752-1836), who was High Sheriff of Worcestershire in 1797 and a leading figure in Worcester, where he also had a house. It is unusual for an elderly man to build a mansion so close to the end of his life, especially when he has no direct heirs, and the fact that he did so might suggest that an earlier house was destroyed by fire, but I can find no evidence for this in the local press. When Harper died, his property was left to trustees, who sold his house in Worcester and let Astley Hall in 1836. The tenant who moved into Astley was Thomas Simcox Lea (1789-1868), a local carpet manufacturer, and when Harper's trustees offered the freehold for sale in 1842, he bought it. Lea has until now been erroneously identified as the man for whom the house was built.
Astley Hall: the east-facing entrance front. Image: ViennaUK. Some rights reserved.

The new house is a rather refined ashlar-faced neo-Tudor house, and consisted originally of the centre and lower one-bay wings, with a brick service wing extending further to the south. On the entrance front, the centre has three bays, shaped gables and two-storey canted bay windows, but on the garden side it has five bays and a porch-like central projection rising through two storeys, which lights a viewing balcony at the head of the main staircase. The wings also have shaped gables. 
The house is approached by a lodge to the east, in a similar style, and also of c.1835. 

Astley Hall: the west-facing garden front, showing the loggia added by the Baldwins c.1912. Image: ViennaUK. Some rights reserved.
In 1868 the house descended to Rev. Frederick Simcox Lea (d. 1893), who let it to a series of tenants. In 1902 the incoming tenant was Stanley Baldwin (1867-1947), who bought the freehold in 1912, added the entrance porch (modelled on that at Grafton Manor (Worcs)) and remodelled the brick service wing to the south, adding the large tripartite Ionic loggia at its rear. Inside, a convincingly Jacobean strapwork ceiling survives in the entrance hall. Baldwin (or the 1st Earl Baldwin of Bewdley as he became in 1937) lived here until his death in 1947, when he bequeathed the property to the City of Birmingham for use as a boarding school, even though it lay well outside the city boundary. School use continued for a number of years, but the house was eventually sold and converted into a care home, which purpose it still serves.

Descent: built for Moses Harper (c.1752-1836) and leased and later sold to Thomas Simcox Lea (1789-1868); to son, Rev. Frederick Simcox Lea (d. 1893), who leased to Thomas Jackson and then to John Everard Barton (d. 1886) and his widow; ... leased from 1902 and sold 1912 to Stanley Baldwin (1867-1947), 1st Earl Baldwin of Bewdley; bequeathed to City of Birmingham for use as a school; subsequently sold and converted into a care home.

Baldwin family, Earls Baldwin of Bewdley

Baldwin, Thomas (1751-1823). Second son of John Baldwin (1725-57) of Broseley (Shropshire), ironmaster, and his wife Mary (d. 1811), daughter of George Pearce of Broseley, baptised at Broseley, 29 September 1751. Forgemaster at Stourport (Worcs). He married, 1 January 1784 at St Mary, Shrewsbury (Shropshire), Mary Gough (c.1769-1820), and had issue (perhaps among others):
(1) Thomas Baldwin (1785-95), baptised at St Mary, Shrewsbury, 14 March 1785; died young and was buried at Lower Mitton (Worcs), 25 July 1795;
(2) William Baldwin (1787-1801), baptised at Wellington (Shropshire), 3 June 1787; died young and was buried at Lower Mitton, 7 February 1801;
(3) George Pearce Baldwin (1789-1840) (q.v.);
(4) John Baldwin (1791-94); died young and was buried at Lower Mitton, 26 December 1794;
(5) Enoch Baldwin (1793-1857); in partnership with his brother George as ironmaster in Stourport (Baldwin, Son & Co.); on the death of his brother in 1840 he also formed a new tinplate works partnership based in Wolverhampton with his two adult nephews (E., P. & W. Baldwin), which acquired the wrought iron and tinplate works at Wilden (Worcs) in 1854; married, 16 April 1817 at Worcester, Mary Anne Lowe (1792-1844) and had issue four sons and six daughters; died 19 February 1857. 
He moved from Broseley to Stourport in the early 19th century and may also have had a house in Shrewsbury.
He died 25 April and was buried at Lower Mitton, 29 April 1823. His wife died 7 February and was buried at Lower Mitton, 10 February 1820.

Baldwin, George Pearce (1789-1840). Son of Thomas Baldwin (1751-1823) of Stourport and his wife Mary Gough, born 17 May 1789. Ironmaster at Stourport in partnership with his brother Enoch as Baldwin, Son & Co., who specialised in the manufacture of kitchen equipment. He married 1st, 16 April 1812 at Kidderminster (Worcs), Anne Hill (d. 1819) and 2nd, 4 October 1822, Sarah Chalkey (c.1803-74), daughter of Rev. Jacob Stanley of Alnwick (Northbld), and had issue:
(1.1) Pearce Baldwin (1813-61), born 20 July and baptised at Stourport Wesleyan Methodist Church, 20 August 1813; operated a tinplate works at Wolverhampton and Wilden in partnership with his uncle and brother as E., P. & W. Baldwin; married, 17 September 1856, Hannah Myra (1821-82), daughter of Edward Evans of Thornloe House (Worcs), but had no issue; died 6 April 1861; will proved 7 August 1861 (effects under £14,000);
(1.2) William Hill Baldwin (1817-63), born 8 March and baptised at Stourport Wesleyan Methodist Church, 17 April 1817; operated a tinplate works at Wolverhampton and Wilden in partnership with his uncle and brother as E., P. & W. Baldwin; died unmarried, 11 May 1863; will proved 3 June 1863 (effects under £25,000);
(2.1) George Baldwin (b. & d. 1824), born 8 April 1824; died in infancy, 17 October 1824;
(2.2) George Baldwin (1826-81) of Stourport, born 16 March and baptised at Stourport Wesleyan Methodist Church, 24 May 1826; tin-plate maker with E., P. & W. Baldwin until 1870; lived latterly at Wolverhampton (Staffs); married, 7 March 1854, Mary Ellen (c.1835-73), daughter of Edmund Poole of Dudley (Worcs), and had issue five sons and two daughters; died 5 March 1881; will proved 11 May 1881 (estate under £16,000);
(2.3) Stanley Baldwin (1828-1907), born 4 February and baptised at Stourport Wesleyan Methodist Church, 22 May 1828; partner in E., P. & W. Baldwin until 1870, and later an engineer at Stourport and West Didsbury (Lancs); married, 8 March 1859 at Astley (Worcs), his cousin Mary (c.1833-1911), daughter of John Lowe of Astley, but had no issue; died 21 September and buried in Manchester Southern Cemetery, 26 September 1907;
(2.4) Sarah Anne Baldwin (1830-1919), born 19 April and baptised at Stourport Wesleyan Methodist Church, 23 August 1830; married, 1861, George Robinson (1825-71) of Leicester and had issue three sons and two daughters; died 15 December 1919;
(2.5) Edward Pearce Baldwin (1832-48), born 26 May and baptised at Stourport Wesleyan Methodist Church, 13 July 1832; died young, 26 April 1848;
(2.6) Mary Jane Baldwin (1834-1908), born 16 January and baptised at Stourport Wesleyan Methodist Church, 8 July 1834; married, 17 November 1864 at West Malvern (Worcs), as his second wife, Dr. George Gwynn Brown of Mitton Grange, Stourport, surgeon, and had issue two daughters; died of pneumonia in Florence (Italy), 18 January 1908, and was buried there;
(2.7) Lucilla Baldwin (1836-1916), born 16 March and baptised at Stourport Wesleyan Methodist Church, 20 July 1836; married, 20 April 1859 at Stourport, William Harrison Livesey (1830-1900), railway engineer and later chief accountant of Mersey Docks and Harbour Board, and had issue three sons and four daughters; died 24 November 1916; will proved 3 March 1917 (estate £1,249);
(2.8) Eliza Baldwin (1837-1914), born 2 September 1837; married, 8 June 1864, Thomas Bond Worth (1834-96) of Lower Mitton (Worcs), carpet manufacturer, and had issue five sons and four daughters; died 2 July 1914; will proved 5 August 1914 (estate £4,409);
(2.9) Alfred Baldwin (1841-1908) (q.v.).
He lived at Stourport.
He died 1 October 1840; his will was apparently proved in the PCC in 1841, but has not been traced. His first wife died in February 1819. His widow died in Stourport, 25 February 1874; her will was proved 20 June 1874 (effects under £800).

Alfred Baldwin (1841-1908)
Baldwin, Alfred (1841-1908).  
Louisa Baldwin (1845-1925)
by Edward Poynter
Fifth and youngest son of George Pearce Baldwin (1789-1840) and his second wife, Sarah Chalkey, daughter of Rev. Jacob Stanley of Alnwick (Northbld), born posthumously, 4 June 1841. As a young man, he was employed in the family firms of E., P. & W. Baldwin (his uncle and half-brothers) and Baldwin Sons & Co. of Stourport. Between 1857 and 1863 the original partners in E., P. & W. Baldwin all died and the management of the firm devolved upon Alfred and his two surviving elder brothers, George and Stanley. Unfortunately, the latter's bad management and drinking, combined with a trade depression, brought the firm close to bankruptcy in the late 1860s. In 1870, Alfred Baldwin raised £20,000 and bought out his brothers and he went on to develop the firm into a successful business, which developed a London trade from the 1880s and expanded into south Wales, (where he founded Alfred Baldwin & Co., sheet metal manufacturers, in 1886). His various companies were amalgamated, with other steelworks and collieries, into Baldwins Ltd. (a public company, with assets of about £1m and 4,000 employees) in 1902. He became a director of the Great Western Railway, 1901-08 (Chairman, 1905-08) and the Metropolitan Bank, and was made a Freeman of the City of London in 1893. He was a JP and DL for Worcestershire and became Conservative MP for Bewdley, 1892-1908. He was brought up as a Methodist, but became a High Church Anglican in the 1860s. He was a popular employer and landlord, and undertook many philanthropic projects for the benefit of his workpeople and the community, including the building of Wilden church. He was described as 'a studious, literary man, useless in practical matters but an extremely good judge of character with an aptitude for administration'. He married, 9 August 1866*, Louisa (1845-1925), daughter of Rev. George Brown Macdonald, a Methodist minister in Wolverhampton, and had issue:
(1) Rt. Hon. Sir Stanley Baldwin KG (1867-1947), 1st Earl Baldwin of Bewdley (q.v.).
He lived at Wilden House from 1870, although after becoming an MP in 1892 he spent much of his time in London, where he had a mansion flat in Kensington.
He died in London of a heart attack, 13 February 1908; his will was proved 21 March 1908 (estate £199,376). His widow died 16 May 1925; her will was proved 26 June 1925 (estate £5,399).
* A double wedding, when Louisa's sister married the artist Edward Poynter.

Rt. Hon. Stanley Baldwin,
1st Earl Baldwin of Bewdley
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Sir Stanley (1867-1947), 1st Earl Baldwin of Bewdley, KG. Only child of Alfred Baldwin (1841-1908) and his wife Louisa, daughter of Rev. G.B. Macdonald of Wolverhampton, born at Lower Park House, Bewdley, 3 August 1867. Educated at Harrow and Trinity College, Cambridge (matriculated 1885; BA 1888; MA 1892). He joined his father's firm in 1888, became a partner in 1890, and managing director of the Baldwins Ltd. group in 1902, and he succeeded his father on the boards of the Great Western Railway and the Metropolitan Bank in 1908. Up to and during the First World War the profits of his businesses were strong and he became quite rich, and by 1919 (when he calculated his assets at £580,000), his conscience was troubled by the scale of his wealth; he responded by gifting a fifth of his assets to the Treasury to pay off part of the national debt. He wrote an anonymous letter to The Times in which he explained his action and called on other wealthy people to do the same, although with disappointing results. After 1920 his profits were greatly reduced by the slump in the iron and steel industry, and he had to sell his London house and live on capital for a number of years; he became increasingly reliant on his ministerial salary, and in retirement he faced financial and staffing difficulties. He was a JP for Worcestershire from 1897 and succeeded his father as Conservative MP for Bewdley, 1908-37. He was sworn of the Privy Council, 1920, and of the Privy Council of Canada, 1927, and had a rapid ministerial rise, being appointed Financial Secretary to the Treasury, 1917-21; President of the Board of Trade, 1921-22; and Chancellor of the Exchequer, 1922-23. He was Leader of the Conservative Party, 1923-37 and served as Prime Minister, 1923-24, 1924-29; Lord President of the Council, 1931-35 and Lord Privy Seal, 1932-33 in the National Government, and as Prime Minister of the National Government, 1935-37. Following his retirement from Government on 28 May 1937, he was made a Knight of the Garter, and he was created 1st Earl Baldwin of Bewdley and Viscount Corvedale on 8 June 1937. He was Rector of Edinburgh University, 1923-26 and Glasgow University, 1928-31; Chancellor of St. Andrews University, 1929-47, and Cambridge University, 1930-47; President of the Classical Association, 1926; an Elder Brother of Trinity House, 1927; Chairman of the Rhodes and Pilgrim Trusts from 1930; President of Marylebone Cricket Club, 1938-39 and High Steward of Tewkesbury, 1939-47. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, 1927 and a member of Académie des Sciences Morales et Politiques (France), 1930, and was Hon. Master of the Bench, Inner Temple, 1936. He was awarded honorary LLD degrees by Cambridge, St Andrews, Birmingham,  Edinburgh, London, Liverpool, Wales, and Queens University, Belfast, and DCL degrees by Oxford and Durham. Collections of his speeches and addresses were published as Our Inheritance (1928) and This Torch of Freedom (1935). As an only child, he developed a taste for reading (especially history and literature) and country walks which remained with him all his life, and he had a distinctive persona as a relaxed and accessible man, which was apparent in his loose suits, trademark pipe and the twinkle in his eye. He had a sincere religious faith, but his religion was concerned with good works and Christian conduct. He had a strong sense of service and duty which was central to his personality and conduct in politics; he considered that 'the political career properly viewed is really a kind of ministry', and he viewed the political education of the mass electorate as a vital and urgent task, so that democracy could deliver good government. Baldwin wanted a stable capitalist system with a human heart; economic freedom with social duty. He believed in individual responsibility and moral choice, and opposed what he saw as the dead hand of state intervention. For these reasons Baldwin was always less concerned with the details of policy and legislation than with public attitudes, which he sought to shape through influential speeches, often delivered to non-political audiences, in which his honesty, plain-speaking and positivity, leavened with humour, were more apparent than party dogma, so that he sometimes appeared to be above politics. He might have made a greater impact and and earned a greater reputation if his period at the top of British politics had not coincided with a period of social tension and economic crisis: the General Strike, the Great Depression, the rise of Nazi Germany and the Abdication Crisis all happened during his years as Leader of the Conservative Party. During the Second World War his reputation was shredded by the Beaverbrook press, which painted him as one of the prime architects of the pre-war policy of appeasement and baited him with a series of petty attacks. The unsympathetic official biography written by G.M. Young, Stanley Baldwin (1952) was affected by this wartime view, and moved his younger son to write My Father: the true story (1955) in response. Later appraisals by K. Middlemas & J. Barnes, Baldwin (1969), H.M. Hyde, Baldwin (1973) and P. Williamson, Stanley Baldwin (1999) have had access to the archival materials, and have largely rehabilitated his reputation and demonstrated his statecraft. Baldwin married, 12 September 1892 at Rottingdean, Lucy GBE DGStJ (1869-1945), who in addition to supporting her husband's career was a campaigner for improved maternity care; she was the eldest daughter of Edward Lucas Jenks Ridsdale of The Dean, Rottingdean (Sussex), Master of the Royal Mint, and they had issue (in addition to a stillborn son in January 1894):
(1) Lady Diana Lucy Baldwin (1895-1982), born 8 April 1895; married 1st, 24 November 1919 at St Margaret, Westminster (Middx) (div. 1934), Capt. Sir (Richard) Gordon Munro KCMG MC (1895-1967) (who m2, 22 March 1934, Lilian Muriel (b. 1904), daughter of Sir Otto John Beit, 1st bt.) and had issue one son; married 2nd, 24 February 1934 at Kensington Register Office, Capt. George Durant Kemp-Welch (1907-44), cricketer with Warwickshire CCC, who was killed when the Guards Chapel was bombed in 1944; died 21 May 1982; will proved 23 August 1982 (estate £72,354);
(2) Lady Leonora (k/a Lorna) Stanley Baldwin (1896-1989), born 10 July 1896; married, 20 June 1922 at St Margaret, Westminster, Capt. the Hon. Sir Arthur Jared Palmer Howard KBE CVO (1896-1971), son of Robert Jared Bliss Howard and his wife Margaret, Baroness Strathcona and Mount Royal, and had issue two sons and two daughters; died 23 June 1989, aged 92; her will was proved 9 March 1990 (estate under £100,000);
(3) Lady (Pamela) Margaret (k/a Margot) Baldwin (1897-1976), born 16 September 1897; married, 2 April 1919 at St Margaret, Westminster, Sir (Herbert) Maurice Huntington-Whiteley (1896-1975), 2nd bt., and had issue three sons; died 14 August 1976; will proved 1 November 1976 (estate £13,922);
(4) Oliver Ridsdale Baldwin (1899-1958), 2nd Earl Baldwin of Bewdley (q.v.);
(5) Lady Esther Louisa (k/a Betty) Baldwin (1902-81), born 16 March 1902; died unmarried, 22 June 1981; will proved 27 October 1981 (estate £6,140);
(6) (Arthur) Windham Baldwin (1904-76), 3rd Earl Baldwin of Bewdley (q.v.).
He leased Dunley Hall near Stourport from 1892-1902 and Astley Hall from 1902 until he bought the freehold in 1912.
He died in his sleep on 13-14 December 1947 and was cremated in Birmingham; his ashes were buried in Worcester Cathedral, where he and his wife are commemorated by a ledger stone; his will was proved 18 March 1948 (estate £280,971). His wife died from a heart attack, 17 June 1945 and was cremated; her ashes were later buried with those her husband; her will was proved 14 September 1945 (estate £32,846).

Oliver Ridsdale Baldwin,
2nd Earl Baldwin of Bewdley
Baldwin, Oliver Ridsdale (1899-1958), 2nd Earl Baldwin of Bewdley. Elder son of Stanley Baldwin (1867-1947), 1st Earl Baldwin of Bewdley, and his wife Lucy, eldest daughter of Edward Lucas Jenks Ridsdale of Rottingdean (Sussex), born 1 March 1899. Educated at Eton (which he hated) and did not go to University. He served in the Irish Guards, 1916-18 (2nd Lt., 1916), was an infantry instructor in Armenia during the Armeno-Turkish War, 1920-21 (where he was imprisoned by both the Bolsheviks and the Turks), and then turned to journalism and authorship. Despite his family's traditional Conservatism, he held left-wing views, and he was elected Labour MP for Dudley, 1929-31. In 1931 he declined to join the National Government and lost his seat, returning to journalism and writing his autobiography, Questing Beast (1932). When his father was raised to the peerage in 1937, he received the courtesy title of Viscount Corvedale. In the Second World War he served with the Intelligence Corps (Maj.) in north Africa and the Middle East, but he then returned to politics, being elected as MP for Paisley in the Labour landslide at the 1945 general election. He succeeded his father as 2nd Earl Baldwin of Bewdley, 14 December 1947, and was obliged to move to the House of Lords. To provide him with an exit from politics, he was appointed Governor and Commander-in-Chief of the Leeward Islands, 1948-50, but his socialist views did not find favour there and he was recalled in 1950. He was well known within his family and immediate circle to be a homosexual, but although this caused a rift with Rudyard Kipling (who was his second cousin and had been a close friend in his youth) it never became public knowledge and there was no scandal. His long-term male partner, John Parke Boyle (1893-1969), was accepted by his family.
He lived at Little Stoke House, North Stoke, Oxfordshire with his partner in a household which his biographer described as "gentle, amicable, animal-loving, primitive, homosexual socialism".
He died in Mile End Hospital, London, 10 August 1958; his will was proved 6 February 1959 (estate £40,668). His partner died 24 February 1969 and was buried at North Stoke; his will was proved 30 July 1969 (estate £12,608).

Baldwin, (Arthur) Windham (1904-76), 3rd Earl Baldwin of Bewdley. Younger son of Stanley Baldwin (1867-1947), 1st Earl Baldwin of Bewdley, and his wife Lucy, eldest daughter of Edward Lucas J. Ridsdale of Rottingdean (Sussex), born 22 March 1904. Educated at Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge. Director of Round Oak Steelworks, Redpath Brown and Great Western Railway before the Second World War, and of Equitable Life Assurance Society, 1938-74. He served in the Royal Air Force, 1941-45 (rising from the ranks to a commission). In the 1950s he published My Father: the true story (1955), in which he severely criticised his father's official biographer and other historians for misjudging him, and also The Macdonald Sisters (1960), one of whom was his grandmother, and his own memoir, A flying start (1967). He succeeded his brother as 3rd Earl Baldwin of Bewdley, 10 August 1958, and spoke occasionally in the House of Lords, chiefly on the subjects of transport and industry. He married, 25 August 1936, Joan Elspeth (d. 1980), youngest daughter of Charles Alexander Tomes of New York (USA), and had issue:
(1) Edward Alfred Alexander Baldwin (b. 1938), 4th Earl Baldwin of Bewdley, born 3 January 1938; educated at Eton and, after national service in the Intelligence Corps (Lt.), at Trinity College, Cambridge (BA 1961; MA 1966; PGCE); teacher 1970-77 and then held administrative posts in local government education departments, 1977-87, latterly with Oxfordshire County Council; succeeded his father as 4th Earl Baldwin of Bewdley, 1976, and sat in the House of Lords as a Crossbench peer; he was one of the ninety hereditary peers elected to remain in the House of Lords from 1999 until his retirement in 2018; joint chairman of All-Party Parliamentary Groups for Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 1992-2002 and against Flouridation, 2005-10, and of a select committee on alternative medicine, 1999-2000; chairman of the British Acupuncture Accreditation Board, 1990-98; married 1st, 1970, Sarah MacMurray (d. 2001), eldest daughter of Evan Maitland James of Upwood Park, Abingdon (Berks), and had issue three sons; married 2nd, 2015, Lydia M.M. (b. 1945), sculptor, daughter of James Edmund Segrave, widow of Dr. Ian Malcolm David Little (1918-2012) and formerly wife of Ben T. Lenthael; now living.
He lived latterly at Bushey House, Apperley (Glos).
He died 5 July 1976; his will was proved 24 September 1976 (estate £143,298). His widow died 24 July 1980; her will was proved 25 November 1980 (estate £235,947). 


Burke's Peerage and Baronetage, 2003, pp. 230-31;  A. Brooks & Sir N. Pevsner, The buildings of England: Worcestershire, 2007, p. 116; ODNB entry for Stanley Baldwin, 1st Earl Baldwin of Bewdley.

Location of archives

Baldwin family of Bewdley etc.: family, business and estate correspondence and papers, diaries and journals, 1721-1974 [Worcestershire Archives & Archaeology Service 705:775]
Stanley Baldwin (1867-1947), 1st Earl Baldwin of Bewdley: political and personal correspondence and papers [Cambridge University Library: Baldwin papers 1-249 and MS. Add. 8770-8771, 9774]
Oliver Ridsdale Baldwin (1899-1958), 2nd Earl Baldwin of Bewdley: letters to 2nd Earl and John Boyle, 20th cent. [Cambridge University Library: MS. Add. 8795, 9569]

Coat of arms

Argent, on a saltire sable, a quatrefoil or.

Revision and acknowledgements

This post was first published 13 August 2018.

Tuesday, 7 August 2018

(340) Baker (later Meath Baker) of Fenton House and Hasfield Court

The Bakers of Fenton House, and later of Hasfield Court, are a cadet branch of the Bakers of Highfields. William Baker (1705-71), an architect who married the heiress to the Highfields estate in Audlem (Cheshire) and settled there in the mid 18th century, had two sons. The elder (Richard Baker) followed his father's profession and inherited Highfields and the brickworks his father ran on the estate. For the younger son, William Baker (1744-84), his father purchased the manor of Fenton Vivian in the parish of Stoke-on-Trent in 1765. There was at the time no manor house to speak of, and the area was already rapidly industrialising, so the intention seems to have been from the first that William junior would derive an income from the exploitation of the estate's natural resources, which included coal and brick clay, and perhaps that he would become a pottery manufacturer. In 1767 William married Sarah, the daughter of Thomas Bagnall, whose family had been in the pottery industry for more than half a century, and in the same year he set up in business with his father-in-law as Baker & Bagnall, pottery manufacturers. William died young in 1784, leaving as his son and heir William Baker (1771-1833), who was too young to be actively engaged in the business for several more years. It is not clear where the management of the concern lay at this time, but in 1793 Sarah Baker married for a second time. Her new husband was Ralph Bourne (1773-1835), a scion of another established potting family, who was a full generation her junior and who was soon in partnership with her son as Bourne & Baker. To consolidate the alliance, in 1794 William Baker married Ralph's sister, Molly (1767-1855). Ralph's brother John was also for a time a partner in the concern. Bourne & Baker was sufficiently prosperous for William to build a new house for himself and his family, conveniently sited between his main pottery works and his coal mine (Glebe Colliery) which supplied the coal to fire his kilns. This house, later known as Fenton House, survived until the 1960s, but has now disappeared without trace.

After the deaths of William Baker in 1833 and Ralph Bourne in 1835, the partnership of Bourne & Baker was dissolved, and the business was taken on by William's eldest son, William Baker (1800-65), who was joined briefly by his younger brother, John Baker (1806-37). Under William's guidance, the firm grew rapidly so that it soon employed 500 men and was the largest pottery business in Fenton. William also operated a brickworks and made the encaustic tiles which the Victorians liked to use for flooring in churches, entrance halls and conservatories. William ran the firm on his own for many years, but around 1860 he took into partnership Charles Challinor (1829-93) and began a gradual withdrawal from the firm prior to retirement. In 1863 he purchased the Hasfield Court estate in Gloucestershire, and at once commissioned the Staffordshire architect Henry Ward to modernise it, but he died in 1865 before work had commenced. As he had never married, the Hasfield estate and his interest in the pottery business both passed to his brother, the Rev. Ralph Bourne Baker (1802-75), who was a retired clergyman living in Bristol. Challinor seems to have taken over the management of the business, and the family house at Fenton was occupied by two of Ralph's sisters (Charlotte Baker and Sarah Hitchman) until their deaths in 1874 and 1890. Ralph carried out the plans prepared for altering Hasfield Court, but it is not clear whether he ever lived there, since he still had his house in Clifton when he died in 1875.

The heir to both Hasfield and the Fenton estate in 1875 was Ralph's only son, William Meath Baker (1857-1935), who owed his middle name to the fact that his maternal grandfather had been the Bishop of Meath in Ireland. He came of age in 1880, and although he was very active in the management of his estates and took a philanthropic concern for his tenants and the communities they lived in, he does not seem to have played an active role in the management of the pottery business. He lived at Hasfield and made occasional visits to Fenton, where the family house remained at his disposal until the 1890s at least, and possibly later, though it was certainly leased by the 1920s. The heyday of the pottery industry had passed by then, and William Baker sold his interests in the industry in 1932. At Hasfield, he had a circle of literary and artistic friends, including the composer Sir Edward Elgar, who caricatured him in the Enigma Variations published in 1899.

A little surprisingly for a property bought as late as 1863, the Hasfield estate had been entailed either by William Baker (d. 1865) or the Rev. Ralph Baker. When, in 1918, William Meath Baker's eldest son became a Roman Catholic priest and it was therefore clear he would never have legitimate issue, it was agreed within the family to break the entail so that the estate could pass at William Meath Baker's death to his second son, Francis Ralph Meath Baker (1886-1940). Unfortunately, Francis did not long survive his father, and died leaving a young family in the care of his widow, Madeleine Susan Meath Baker (1901-88). After the Second World War she married again, first to Lt-Col. Arden Beaman, who died just two years later, and then in 1953 to James Lamplugh Brooksbank (1889-1974). Mrs Brooksbank lived at Hasfield Court until she was widowed for the third time, and then handed the estate over to her son, Gregory Meath-Baker (b. 1930). He married Priscilla Ann Gurney (b. 1937), and their eldest son, Clovis Meath-Baker (b. 1959) has inherited her family seat at Walsingham Abbey (Norfolk). Hasfield Court continues to be occupied by the family.

Fenton House, Staffordshire

In 1767, William Baker of Highfields bought the manor of Fenton Vivian (Staffs) for his younger son, William Baker (1744-84). The manor place at that time seems to have been a moated site in the north of the estate, which may already have been deserted or abandoned, and although a new manor house was built later on a different site to the south, this does not seem to have been constructed until after the manorial rights had passed (by sale or otherwise) to the Bourne family, who were in partnership with the Bakers and related to them by multiple marriage ties. William Baker's early death left his property and pottery interests to his young son, William Baker (1771-1835), and when he came of age he seems to have built a new house, later called Fenton House, on a site close to his factory and just south of Victoria Place, an irregular paved area formed at the junction of City Road and Victoria Road in the centre of Fenton. 

Fenton House: the site on the 1st edition 6" map, surveyed 1866-77.

The new house, although clearly not a country house by any definition, was a substantial square two-storey brick building in its own grounds. It was altered and extended in the late 19th century, when it was also given a stone front. It continued to be used by the Baker family until at least 1896 and probably later, but in the 1920s it was sold to the Church of England as a vicarage for the nearby Christ Church, Fenton, and in about 1960 the house was converted into a pottery factory. It was demolished between 1963 and 1974, and no visual record of it has been found, apart from an aerial photograph of 1937.

Descent: built c.1800 for William Baker (1771-1835); to son, William Meath Baker (1800-65); to brother, Rev. Ralph Bourne Baker (1802-75); to son, William Meath Baker (1857-1935), who sold it as a vicarage c.1920; sold again c.1960 and demolished c.1970.

Hasfield Court, Gloucestershire

Hasfield Court: entrance front in 2008. Image: Paul Larsen. Some rights reserved.

A casual glance at the compact and intensely Victorian stone-built elevations of Hasfield Court would hardly suggest the complexity of its history, much of which can still be detected in the surviving fabric.  The manor of Hasfield belonged in the medieval period to the Pauncefoot family, who retained it until 1598.  Hasfield seems to have been their most important property, and it is likely that the small lake in the garden of the Court is a surviving section of a former moat around the manor house.  If the medieval building was on the present site, this would imply an extremely large moat, for which there is as yet no archaeological evidence, and as no part of the present house shows dateable evidence of medieval features, it is perhaps more likely that the present house was built on a new site.

In 1516 John Pauncefoot was murdered, apparently while carrying out his duties as a Justice of the Peace, leaving a four-year-old son, Richard, as his heir.  One of John’s creditors seems to have gained possession of the manor and subsequently to have sold it to John Browne.  Browne claimed to have been expelled from the manor by force in 1531, and although he regained possession was still disputing his rights with Richard Pauncefoot in the Star Chamber in c.1537.  These proceedings are significant because the earliest identifiable part of the present house dates from the years before Richard’s death in 1558, when he had finally recovered his birthright. It is the rear half of the main block which dates from this period; although much altered in subsequent rebuildings, it would seem that the roof structure is fundamentally of this date, whilst on the ground floor the former dining room has a 16th century cornice with a biblical quotation and the initials R.P. and D.P. (for Richard and his wife Dorothy).  It seems unlikely that this small block represents the full extent of the 16th century house: it was perhaps a new cross-wing built onto an earlier hall block which has since been demolished.  Another survival from Richard Pauncefoot's time would appear to be the four-centred archway with a pair of pierced quatrefoils above, which now forms a projecting central entrance into the stable block north-west of the house.  This might have been part of a free-standing gatehouse to the 16th century building, although there is no independent evidence for the existence of such a structure.

Hasfield Court: the late 17th century house, recorded in a photograph of c.1865. Image: Gregory Meath-Baker.

The house changed hands several times in the late 16th and early 17th centuries, but there is no evidence that it was altered until Edward Parker (d. 1728) inherited it in 1692. He seems to have added the front half of the main block and remodelled the exterior of the older part of the house to make it consistent with the new work.  Its appearance following this work can be made out from the photograph of c.1865 above, which shows that the house had a main south front of seven bays, topped by narrow straight gables, and an east front of five similarly gabled bays. The house had a plain and rather narrow porch on the south front.  The internal arrangements of the range have again been largely altered later, but the drawing room to the right of the entrance retains its original proportions and fragments of an egg-and-dart frieze.  The present staircase is Victorian in siting and construction, but appears to incorporate some balusters of c.1700 which may come from its predecessor.  The former dovecote by the lake, south-east of the house, appears likely to be coeval in origin with these alterations to the house.  It was remodelled, however, in the mid 19th century (perhaps by Thomas Fulljames), when the windows with marginal lights and the bargeboards were added.

At the beginning of the 19th century, John Stone separated the house from the attached manorial estate by selling the former to Thomas Fulljames senior, a land surveyor who made a substantial fortune from acting as an inclosure commissioner and invested it in land at Ashleworth and Hasfield. Fulljames apparently lived at Hasfield Court until his death in 1847, but in 1826 (when he may have been affected by the general financial crash of that year) he tried to sell the house back to the Stone family. His initial overtures to Edward Gresley Stone met with some encouragement, and he was therefore annoyed when a formal proposition was rudely dismissed, Stone reportedly saying that ‘he considered the house a mere stack of red bricks’, and that he would prefer Clifford Chambers Court, which was also on the market.  This comment moved Fulljames to expostulate:

“there is not a red brick to be seen, and the house of full one half of stone work and the rest of brick, and will be of much longer duration than that at Chambers Court, which to compare with this, gives any one the Idea of its being the residence of some Tailor rather than that of a country gentleman; whereas this is what everyone would call the cast of a house for the residence of a ….Country Esquire”.

The description of Hasfield was ‘full one half of stone work’ is interesting, since the main block appears to have been entirely constructed of blue lias; the brick part must have been service accommodation to the north and west of the main building, since demolished.

The manor and house were eventually reunited in 1845 when Fulljames bought the manor and remaining land.  He died two years later, and his widow seems to have reached an agreement with her nephew and eventual heir, the architect Thomas Fulljames, to share Hasfield Court with his family. When he acquired full control of the property at her death in 1858, he may have considered remodelling the house, but in the end offered it for sale in 1863, preferring to build an entirely new house at Foscombe in Ashleworth. Despite the younger Fulljames’ occupation, no alterations can be traced with confidence to his time.  The possible exception is a three-light ‘Tudor’ window on the west side of the house.  This appears to be largely 19th century, but some parts, notably the spandrels, look more genuine, and could conceivably have been removed from Hasfield church during Fulljames’ restoration of 1847-48.

The purchaser in 1863 was William Baker (1800-65), who owned interests in the china, earthenware and coal industries at Stoke-on-Trent.  He commissioned Henry Ward, the borough architect of Stafford, who had perhaps worked for the family in the Midlands, to remodel and entirely refront the house on the south and east sides. It is probable that one occasion of the work was the condition of the original blue lias stone walling, which is unlikely to have survived well in Hasfield’s relatively exposed situation.  William Baker actually died in 1865 before work was begun, but the estate passed to his brother, the Rev. Ralph Bourne Baker, who continued with the project.  Collins & Godfrey, the builders, submitted their tender of £1025 in October 1865, with the option of adding bay windows for a further £220, and it was decided to proceed with the larger scheme. The porch, projecting bays, windows with basket heads, and shaped gables linked by a balustraded parapet, all date from this time.  

Hasfield Court: the house as remodelled in 1866 by Henry Ward for the Rev. Ralph Bourne Baker. Image: Gregory Meath-Baker.

Curiously, Collins & Godfrey’s tender makes no mention of any internal alterations and the tender value seems too low for much internal work to have been included, but it must have been at about this time that the present arrangement of the interior was contrived.  The main changes seem to have been lowering the floor levels in the oldest part of the house to align them with those in the 17th century block; inserting a flat roof in place of the central valley so as to obtain more usable space in the attics; and creating the present staircase. The staircase cannot be much before this date, and not all the room dimensions match up with those stated in the sale particulars of 1863. The dining room (with the black letter inscription) in particular appears to have been extended. All these works have a mildly amateurish feel, and it is possible that no architect was involved in them: the alterations to the roof structure compromised its stability, and necessitated strengthening work some forty years ago. Collins and Godfrey were, however, also involved in the construction of the walled garden, for which a tender was submitted in September 1866.  This is notable for the height of the 6 metre walls and for its use of unusual ribbed bricks, perforated through the ribs at intervals for vertical plant wires, which were perhaps made to order in the Baker brickworks at Fenton.

Hasfield Court: the east front, with the single-storey billiard room added c.1880-86 by Waller & Son on the right. Image: Paul Larsen. Some rights reserved.

Ralph Baker's widow commissioned designs for alterations and additions to the service accommodation from Waller & Son of Gloucester in 1876, but the work did not meet with the approval of her son’s trustees, and had to be abandoned. A few years later, William Meath Baker, having come of age, went back to Waller & Son for the addition of a new music room and conservatory which project as a single-storey range to the west, and a new billiard room and business room, which project to the north.  The work was carried out between 1880 and 1886 to designs prepared by F.W. Waller, whose use of Free Renaissance and Adam-style detailing here achieves one of its happiest results.  The Music Room in particular is very successful; a high, rectangular room with curved angles and pretty decoration in the Adam style.  The former library, left of the entrance hall, became an ante room to the Music Room, and was redecorated by Waller. 

Hasfield Court: the conservatory added by Waller & Son, c.1880-86. Image: Paul Larsen. Some rights reserved.

Hasfield Court: the Music Room added by Waller & Son, c.1880-86. Image: Paul Larsen. Some rights reserved.

A final Victorian addition was the installation of some 17th century panelling from Holdfast Manor, Queenhill (Worcs) in the drawing room, where it obscures the original room cornice and fragments of a William Morris wallpaper.  The panelling was apparently installed c.1890 and altered to accommodate bookshelves. 

Descent: John Pauncefoot (d. 1516); to son, Richard Pauncefoot (c.1512-58); to son, John Pauncefoot (fl. 1584); to son, Richard Pauncefoot, who sold 1598 to Edward Barker; sold before 1601 to Sir Paul Tracy (d. 1626), 1st bt., of Stanway; to son, Sir Richard Tracy (d. 1637), 2nd bt.; to son, Sir Humphrey Tracy, 3rd bt., who sold 1654 to John Parker (d. 1692); to son, Edward Parker (d. 1728); to son, John Parker (d. c.1735); to son, John Parker (d. c.1774); to son, John Parker, who sold 1806 to John Stone (d. 1811), who sold c.1807 to Thomas Fulljames (d. 1847), surveyor; to widow (d. 1858), who shared the house with his nephew and ultimate heir, Thomas Fulljames (1808-74), who sold 1863 to William Meath Baker (1800-65); to brother, Rev. Ralph Bourne Baker (1802-75); to son, William Meath Baker (1857-1935); to son, Francis Meath Baker (1886-1940); to widow, Madeleine Susan (1901-88), later the wife of Lt-Col. Beaman (d. 1950) and Mr J.L. Brooksbank (d. 1974); to son, (William) Gregory Meath Baker (b. 1930).

Baker (later Meath Baker) family of Hasfield Court

Baker, William (1744-84). Second son of William Baker (1705-71), architectand his second wife, Jane, elder daughter and sole heiress of George Dod, barrister-at-law, of Highfields, Audlem (Cheshire), baptised at Bridgnorth, 18 April 1745. Potter, initially in partnership with his father-in-law, as Baker & Bagnall of Fenton (Staffs) from 1767. Lord of the Manor of Fenton Culvert. DL and JP for Staffordshire. He married, 22 August 1770 at Norton-le-Moors (Staffs), Sarah (c.1753-1833), daughter of Thomas Bagnall, and had issue:
(1) William Baker (1771-1833) (q.v.);
(2) twin, Richard Baker (b. 1774), baptised at Stoke-on-Trent, 16 October 1774;
(3) twin, Samuel Baker (1774-1814?), baptised at Stoke-on-Trent, 16 October 1774; possibly the man of that name buried at Stoke-on-Trent, 23 June 1814;
(4) Mary Baker (b. 1777), baptised at Stoke-on-Trent, 15 July 1777;
(5) Jeremiah Baker (b. 1778), born 28 September 1770 and baptised at Stoke-on-Trent, 25 February 1779; married, 1 December 1800 at Norton-le-Moors, Mary Aynsley;
(6) Jane Baker (b. 1786), probably born posthumously and baptised at Stoke-on-Trent, 30 November 1786.
He was given the manor of Fenton Vivian (Staffs) by his father in about 1767.
He died 25 November and was buried at Stoke-on-Trent, 29 November 1784. His widow married 2nd, 21 December 1793 at Norton-le-Moors, Ralph Bourne (1773-1835), pottery manufacturer, of Hilderstone Hall (Staffs), and had further issue; she was buried at Hilderstone, 26 June 1833.

Baker, William (1771-1833). Son of William Baker (1744-84) of Fenton and his wife Sarah, daughter of Thomas Bagnall, baptised at Stoke on Trent, 3 July 1771.  Pottery and earthenware manufacturer, in partnership with his stepfather, Ralph Bourne, as Bourne & Baker, from c.1790. He married, 13 October 1794 at Bucknall cum Bagnall (Staffs), Mary (k/a Molly) (1767-1855), daughter of James Bourne, and sister of Ralph Bourne, and had issue:
(1) Harriet Baker (1794-1834), baptised at Stoke-on-Trent, 29 September 1794; married, 14 April 1825 at Stoke-on-Trent, Henry Cartwright* of New Inn Mill, Trentham (Staffs) and had issue one daughter; buried at Stoke-on-Trent, 28 January 1834;
(2) Charity Baker (1796-1844), baptised at Stoke-on-Trent, 5 February 1796; married, 14 April 1825 at Stoke-on-Trent, Philip Barnes Broade JP (1803-52) of Fenton Manor House and Fenton Vivian, but had no issue; buried at Stoke-on-Trent, 30 July 1844;
(3) Mary Baker (1799-1834), probably baptised at Stoke-on-Trent, 2 August 1799**; married, 25 October 1831 at Stoke-on-Trent, as his second wife, John Harvey JP of Blurton in Trentham (Staffs) and had issue one daughter; buried at Trentham, 21 November 1834;
(4) William Baker (1800-65) (q.v.);
(5) Rev. Ralph Bourne Baker (1802-75) (q.v.);
(6) Jane Baker (1804-60), baptised at Stoke-on-Trent, 6 January 1805; died unmarried and was buried at Stoke-on-Trent, 31 May 1860; will proved 29 October 1860 (estate under £12,000); 
(7) John Baker (1806-37), born 10 July and baptised at Stoke-on-Trent, 26 July 1806; in partnership with his brother William in the 1830s; died unmarried and was buried at Stoke-on-Trent, 30 May 1837;
(8) Sarah Baker (1808-90), born 23 June and baptised at Stoke-on-Trent, 13 July 1813; married, 26 April 1832 at Stoke-on-Trent, John Hitchman (d. 1867) of Leamington (Warks), surgeon; as a widow lived at Fenton House; died at Hawkstone Inn (Shropshire), 7 July 1890; will proved 11 September 1890 (estate £69,777);
(9) Charlotte Baker (1810-74), born 1810 and baptised at Stoke-on-Trent, 12 May 1812; lived at Fenton House; died unmarried, 26 December 1874; will proved 1 February 1875 (effects under £60,000);
(10) Elizabeth Baker (1812-27), baptised at Stoke-on-Trent, 12 May 1812; died young and was buried at Stoke-on-Trent, 14 July 1827.
He lived at Fenton House (Staffs).
He was buried at Stoke-on-Trent, 2 July 1833; his will was proved 19 August 1833. His widow was buried at Stoke-on-Trent, 11 December 1855.
*Cartwright was a tenant of the Trentham estate and was given notice to quit for non-payment of rent in 1833.
** Although in that entry the mother's name is given as Jane.

Baker, William (1800-65). Eldest son of William Baker (1771-1833) and his wife Mary, daughter of James Bourne, baptised at Stoke-on-Trent, 2 February 1800 and 22 April 1804. JP for Staffordshire. Pottery and encaustic tile manufacturer, in partnership with Ralph Bourne and John Bourne as Bourne, Baker & Bourne at Fenton (dissolved 1835), and later as William Baker & Co and Bourne & Challinor; the firm flourished under his leadership and by the mid 19th century had 500 employees and was the largest firm in Fenton. He also operated a colliery (Glebe Colliery) on land adjacent to Fenton House and a brickworks. His philanthropic benefactions to Fenton included building the chancel and vicarage of Christ Church, Fenton and an infants' school. He was unmarried and without issue.
He inherited Fenton House from his father in 1833 and purchased the Hasfield Court estate (Glos) in 1863 for £42,500. At his death his property passed to his next brother, Rev. Ralph Bourne Baker.
He died 8 August, and was buried at Fenton, 15 August 1865, where he is commemorated by a monument erected by his brother; his will was proved February 1866 (effects under £120,000).

Rev. Ralph Bourne Baker.
Image: NPG.
Baker, Rev. Ralph Bourne (1802-75). Second son of William Baker (1771-1833) and his wife Mary, daughter of James Bourne, baptised at Stoke-on-Trent, 31 October 1802. Educated at Rugby and Trinity College, Cambridge (matriculated 1822; BA 1826; MA 1829). Ordained deacon, 1827 and priest, 1828. Rector of Hilderstone (Staffs), 1833-60; Rural Dean of Stone, 1840-60; Examining Chaplain to the Bishop of Meath, 1852; Vicar of Brompton Chapel, Kensington (Middx), 1860-63; Secretary of the Bristol & Clifton Association for the Moral and Religious Improvement of Ireland, 1863. JP for Staffordshire (from 1850) and Gloucestershire (from 1869). Author of several theological works. He married, 28 March 1845 at Taney (Co. Dublin), Frances Crofton (c.1823-81), daughter of Most Rev. & Rt. Hon. Joseph Henderson Singer DD, Bishop of Meath, of Mount Anville Park (Co. Dublin), and had issue:
(1) Mary Frances Baker (1848-1937), born 21 April and baptised at St Peter, Dublin, 29 May 1848; married, 28 August 1895, Canon Alfred Penny (1845-1935), prebendary and Rural Dean of Lichfield, son of Rev. Charles Joseph Penny, rector of Bubbenhall (Warks), but had no issue; died 30 December 1937; will proved 15 March 1938 (estate £16,144);
(2) Sarah Adelaide Baker (1850-51), born July and baptised at Hilderstone, 13 August 1850; died in infancy, 24 April 1851;
(3) Letitia Jane Dorothea Baker (1852-1930), born 29 February and baptised at St Peter, Dublin, 29 April 1852; married, 28 July 1881 at Hasfield, Richard Baxter Townshend (1846-1923), youngest son of Rev. Chambré Corker Townshend, but had no issue; died 30 November 1930; will proved 28 March 1931 (estate £18,255);
(4) William Meath Baker (1857-1935) (q.v.).
After giving up his rectory, he lived at Royal York Crescent, Clifton (Glos). He inherited Hasfield Court and Fenton House from his brother in 1865. He also owned Doveridge Wood House (Derbys), a farm of some 200 acres, which was sold by his executors c.1884.
He died at Hasfield Court, 25 May 1875; his will was proved 30 June 1875 (effects under £140,000). His widow died at Hasfield Court, 18 October 1881; her will was proved 3 December 1881 (effects £5,165).

William Meath Baker (1857-1935)
Baker, William Meath (1857-1935). Only son of Rev. Ralph Bourne Baker (1802-75) of Hasfield Court, Fenton House and Doveridge Wood House, and his wife Frances Crofton, daughter of Most Rev. and Rt. Hon. Joseph Henderson Singer DD, Bishop of Meath, born 1 November 1857 and baptised at Hilderstone (Staffs), 10 January 1858. Educated at Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge (matriculated 1876; BA 1880; MA 1888). JP for Gloucestershire (from 1891) and Staffordshire; High Sheriff of Gloucestershire, 1896. Governor of Gloucester Royal Infirmary and a Guardian of the Tewkesbury Poor Law Union. He was a close friend of the composer, Sir Edward Elgar, and was one of the friends portrayed in Elgar's 'Enigma Variations' of 1899. Before the First World War he was keen member of the local hunts and often climbed in the Swiss Alps, becoming a member of the Alpine Club. He did not take an active part in the family pottery business (William Baker & Co.) at Fenton, but made a number of philanthropic gifts to support community facilities in the town. He married 1st, 24 May 1884, Hannah Mary (1859-1906), only daughter of Capt. R.J. Corbet of La Pinedo, Hyères (France), and 2nd, 5 August 1909 at Holy Trinity, Brompton (Middx), Sybil Agatha Wyrley (1869-1930), youngest daughter of Wyrley Wyrley-Birch of Wretham Hall, West Wretham (Norfk), and had issue:
(1.1) Rev. William George Corbet Baker (1885-1947), born 13 May and baptised at Hasfield, 19 July 1885; educated at Trinity College, Oxford (MA 1910); ordained in the Church of England; curate of West Hoe, Plymouth, 1913; converted to Roman Catholicism in 1918 and became a priest at the Brompton Oratory; died unmarried, 25 April 1947 and was buried at Sydenham (London); will proved 18 October 1947 (estate £40,464);
(1.2) Francis Ralph Meath Baker (1886-1940) (q.v.);
(1.3) Edward John Baker (1887-1936), born 4 August 1887; yacht designer; served in First World War as a sapper in Royal Engineers, 1914-16 (discharged medically unfit); lived in Sussex; died unmarried, 5 April and was buried at Hasfield, 8 April 1936.
He inherited Hasfield Court and Fenton House from his father in 1875 and came of age in 1880. After his eldest son joined the Roman Catholic church in 1918 they agreed to break the entail on the estate so that it could be left to his second son.
He died 15 January 1935 and was buried at Hasfield; his will was proved 8 April 1936 (estate £74,265). His first wife died 4 April and was buried at Hasfield, 7 April 1906; her will was proved 8 June 1906 (estate £1,569). His second wife died 10 July and was buried at Hasfield, 14 July 1930; her will was proved 30 December 1930 (estate £3,476).

Baker, Francis Ralph Meath (1886-1940). Second son of William Meath Baker (1857-1935) and his first wife, Hannah Mary, only daughter of Capt. R.J. Corbet of La Pinedo, Hyères (France), born 23 June 1886. Educated privately and at Trinity College, Oxford (BA). He served in the First World War with the Royal Field Artillery, 1914-16 (Lt.; invalided out). JP for Gloucestershire. A committee member of the Ledbury Hunt. He married, 12 April 1921 at St Mary, Eaton Square, Westminster (Middx), Madeleine Susan JP (1901-88), Chairman of Gloucester Petty Sessions and of Hasfield Parish Council, daughter of Arthur Hugh Bryan of London SW1, and had issue:
(1) Lucinda Helen Mary Francis Meath Baker (1922-2013), born 15 January 1922; married, 31 July 1948, Sir John Julius Wells MP (1925-2017), kt., of Mere House, Mereworth (Kent), only son of Rev. Arthur Reginald Kemble Wells of Sampford Arundel (Somerset), and had issue two sons and two daughters; died 24 February 2013; her will was proved 12 November 2013;
(2) Judith Veronica Sybil Mary Francis Meath Baker (1924-74), born 13 July 1924; served in Second World War with WRNS; Vice-President of the Girls Friendly Society, 1966-74?; lived at Hasfield Court with her mother; died unmarried, 2 December 1974; will proved 11 April 1975 (estate £40,239);
(3) (William) Gregory Francis Meath Baker (b. 1930) (q.v.);
(4) Prudence Dorothea Mary Francis Meath Baker (b. 1932), born 11 February 1932; married, 29 June 1957, Sir Anthony Houlton Salt (1931-91), 6th bt., of Elsenham (Essex), second son of Sir John William Titus Salt, 4th bt., and had issue four daughters.
He inherited the Hasfield Court estate from his father in 1935. At his death it passed to his widow, who sold three farms in 1948 and conveyed the rest of the estate in trust for the children of her son Gregory in 1965.
He died in Cheltenham, 7 June 1940 and was buried at Hasfield; his will was proved 28 December 1940 (estate £86,806). His widow married 2nd, 17 January 1948 at Gloucester Cathedral, Lt-Col. Arden Arthur Hulme Beaman DSO JP (c.1886-1950), High Sheriff of Gloucestershire, 1949, son of Sir Frank Beaman of Lugano (Switzerland), and 3rd, 15 July 1953, as his second wife, James Lamplugh Brooksbank (1889-1974), only son of Walter Lamplugh Brooksbank of Lamplugh Hall (Cumbld.), and died 5 June 1988; her will was proved 20 October 1988 (estate £299,476).

Baker, (William) Gregory Francis Meath (b. 1930). Only son of Francis Ralph Meath Baker (1886-1940) and his wife Madeleine Susan, daughter of Arthur Hugh Bryan of London SW1, born 22 April 1930. Educated at Eton and Magdalene College, Cambridge (MA). An officer in Royal Gloucestershire Hussars, 1955-59 (2nd Lt., 1955; Lt., 1955). High Sheriff of Gloucestershire, 1997-98. He married, 31 May 1958, Priscilla Ann (b. 1937), eldest daughter of John Gurney JP of Walsingham Abbey (Norfk), and had issue:
(1) (William John) Clovis Meath Baker (b. 1959), born 11 May 1959; educated at Eton and Oxford University, where he was editor of Cherwell and a member of the Bullingdon Club; an officer in the Brigade of Gurkhas (2nd Lt., 1981; Lt., 1984); civil servant with Foreign & Commonwealth Office (Director, retired 2013), where he developed expertise in South Asian and Middle Eastern terrorism; seconded to GCHQ as director of intelligence production, 2010-13; appointed OBE, 2003 and CMG, 2013; Associate Fellow of Royal United Services Institute; lives at Walsingham Abbey (Norfk); married, 10 August 1985, Elizabeth Diana (b. 1959), daughter of Charles Woodham-Smith, and had issue four daughters;
(2) (Samuel) Justin Francis Meath Baker (b. 1961), born 4 November 1961; educated at Eton and Edinburgh School of Art; landscape architect and later furniture and interior designer; worked with Christopher Nevile on restoration of Harrington Hall (Lincs) and later founded Meath Baker Design, 1998-2005; director of interior design, Marriott International, 2006-08; director of GloMo digital transformations, 2008-15; design director, Trucktel, 2015-17; led the purchase and restoration for community use of Fenton Town Hall, Stoke-on-Trent, 2015; married, December 1989, Eliza Rose Robertson (b. 1964), daughter of Air Vice Marshal Geoffrey Cairns, and had issue two sons (one died in infancy);
(3) (Hugh) Lysander Luke Meath Baker (b. 1964), born 11 February 1964; educated at Eton, Cambridge University (MA) and Royal College of Art; sales director of Digivate Ltd., 1998-2010; private investor, 2008-date; married, April 2003, Louisa-Ann, daughter of Daniel Oliver of Washington DC (USA);
(4) Joshua Ralph Meath Baker (b. 1965), born 1 December 1965; educated at Eton and the Courtauld Institute, University of London; artist; director of the Medici Society, 2007-date.
He lived at The Old Rectory, Blisworth (Northants) before moving to Hasfield Court in about 1975.
Now living. His wife is now living.


Burke's Landed Gentry, 1965, pp. 27-28; VCH Staffordshire, vol. 8, 1963, pp. 205-24; VCH Glos, vol. 8, 1968, p. 283; B. Carne, ‘Thomas Fulljames, 1808-74: surveyor, architect and civil engineer’, TBGAS, cxiii, 1995, pp. 7-20; A. Brodie, A. Felstead et alDirectory of British architects, 1834-1914, 2001, ii, p. 912; N.W. Kingsley & M. Hill, The country houses of Gloucestershire: vol. 3, 1830-2000, 2001, pp. 151-53;  Glos Archives, RF152.3

Location of archives

Meath Baker of Fenton House and Hasfield Court: deeds and papers, 16th-20th cents [Gloucestershire Archives, D1326, D1800, D4667/1].

Coat of arms

None recorded.

Can you help?

Here are a few notes about information and images which would help to improve the account above. If you can help with any of these or with other additions or corrections, please use the contact form in the sidebar to get in touch.
  • Can anyone provide an illustration of Fenton House? (It should not be confused with Great Fenton House, which stood further south).
  • Can any provide portraits or photographs of those whose names appear in bold above, for whom they are not already given?
  • If anyone has additional or corrected biographical or genealogical information about members of the family I should be most grateful to receive it.

Revision and acknowledgements

This post was first published 7 August 2018.